A Review: The hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I realized that this title needs some corrections.
A Review (more like a ramble really): The hobbit (or to be more accurate, the wizard and the dwarf with a hobbit thrown in): An Unexpected (and completely messed up) Journey

And if you read all the way to the bottom, you will get budget facts....oolala. Also, I tend to be very sarcastic, so if you cannot stand sarcasm, you probably should not read this post. 

Okay, lets start at the very beginning, which I really did like. I was kind of sad that Frodo looked all grown up, baby faced no more, and sadly un-hobbitlike. Bilbo Baggins looked so digitally airbrushed that I could barely find Ian Holm, but these things are to be expected when you film a prequel almost ten years after the original.
There were, of course, several problems with the beginning, but two that I noticed in particular.
Bilbo says to Frodo: "...and while I can honestly say I told you the truth...I may not have told you all of it." Um...yes you did, Bilbo dear. But because I understand why that was done, for the purpose of telling the audience the story, I have no problem with it.
The larger sin, which is found throughout the whole movie, continuing into the second one, and probably to be found in the third one as well, is the vulgarity and lack of common courtesy. I mean, why oh why did the trolls have to be so vulgar? And why didn't Bilbo invite Gandalf to tea? And why the burping contest from the dwarves? The slopping and dripping of their beer? Why? There is no need for any of that. In its place, there could have been little lines from the book...almost as if the movie was taken from a book...oh wow, never thought of that did you Peter?
Also, the shire looked really fake, but more of that later. Before I get into the really horrible stuff, let's look at the good things. The pros.
If the movie had been outright horrible, I wouldn't mind so much. But it COULD have been so good.
The casting was absolutely superb. The music...Howard Shore is always amazing, though there were a couple of pieces that were almost the same as in the Lord of the Rings, but in the wrong place. The most notable being that moment when Thorin runs down the burning tree to kill Azog, and they play the music that was played when the Witch King walked forward to stab Frodo on Weathertop...anyway.
The casting was good. The music was good. The Writers were good writers. The Director had once been amazing. So when I heard who was playing whom, who was doing music, who was writing, and who was directing...of course my mind at once created this amazing and beautiful movie that would be as good as the original Trilogy. That was why the disappointment was so huge.
Anyway, the beginning of the movie was very good. I loved how they tied in the beginning of The Fellowship, kind of re-orients the audience to the world of Middle Earth. There were many very, very good lines. Gandalf's one about how little acts of kindness and love keep the evil at bay. Gandalf's line, "true courage is not knowing about when to take a life, but when to spare one." I loved it. Bilbo's explanation for why he came back to Thorin and Co. And Bilbo's little line at the end: "I would have doubted me too." Wonderful. The riddles-in-the-dark scene was great. Gollum was wonderful, as usual. Martin Freeman was really a perfect Bilbo. If only we had seen more of him...Oh..and the song of the misty mountains...be still my heart. It was so beautiful...if only it had been longer. By the way...why didn't Gandalf bring Bilbo his hankies? They had time for bets...but they didn't have time for that.

So many things were good, but let's take a look at all the things that were bad, bad, bad, bad.

Thorin was really off. For one thing, he was a complete jerk. And for another, in the book he was completely willing to go to Rivendell, that was even part of his plan. And he was also self obsessed. After Balin tells that little story about him and Azog, he turns around and gives this little nod like patting himself on the back. And then there is the moment when he runs to kill Azog....oooo, big heroic Thorin ( I am being sarcastic by the way).
You just put everyone else's lives in danger, stupid! "Oh, well they didn't have to come save me or wait for me or anything"...yeah right, you knew perfectly well they weren't going to leave you there, though they should have. You were only thinking of yourself and your own petty revenge.

I have already mentioned the vulgarity and lack of courtesy. A giant flaw in the entire storyline...what is with Azog? If Peter Jackson had wanted to add an orc in to make things a little more exciting...fine. But to insert a completely new character and let him dominate the story...I don't think so. According to Tolkien, not only was Azog really defeated and KILLED, but Thorin wasn't even the one who killed him. Dain of the Iron Hills was responsible for that, so Thorin's heroism is completely fake. And while I am on "Azog the Ridiculous", what on earth was he doing on Weathertop? And I understand that AZOG was supposed to be really big in Peter Jackson's mind, but when did all the other orcs get so huge? I mean, if that is an orc, then the Uruk-hai must be about seven feet tall...which doesn't make sense. And at one point when talking about Azog, Balin says "[Azog] had sworn to wipe out the line of Durin." Um...why? According to the movie, he had sworn that BEFORE the battle with Thorin and  before he killed Thror. And how is this gigantic orc, who is really strong and powerful and kind of insane and mad and not noticing pain....gets his arm cut off and bang! He is completely defeated and his armies give up and lose...doesn't sound very probable.

I liked the trolls, though they were much more disgusting and vulgar than was needed. When Fili and Kili tell Bilbo to hoot twice like a barn owl and once like a brown owl...in the book it is twice like a barn owl and once like a screech owl. Why do they have to change little things like that? Would it have killed them to...I don't know, maybe quote the book they were supposed to be making a movie of?

Radagast is completely insane in the movie. Some kind of lunatic who lives in a forest and also has arachnophobia. Stupid. There was way too much of him. He featured as too great a character. When I wanted to know what was happening with Bilbo, I had to sit through five minutes of a dying hedgehog. And where did the stupid rabbits come from? And what is with the bird poop? I mean, who but a lunatic has a nest in his hair where birds live, and poop down the side of his face?

So...there is a well known pass going through the mountains, that changes every time there is a thunder storm or the thunder giants get irritable....um. Also, how on earth did Gandalf follow them to the cave? The path they took was destroyed when the thunder giants whose knees it was on had moved and died. And how did Azog follow them? It doesn't make any sense. And when Bilbo says he is going back to Rivendell...how? Well in the book where everything makes sense...they are not walking on a thunder giant's knee. They see the thunder giants fighting off in the distance, that is it. Less than a paragraph.

For my review I re-watched the extended version (not worth the extra money, less than half an hour added) and it has this added scene in "goblin town". When they first come in, there is a rock band of goblins, and the goblin king gets up and dances and sings...what the heck? Speaking of the goblin king, he is way too agile for his fatness. Goblin town was way too big. Too much of it. The entire escape from it was a roller coaster ride, and all of the fighting looked staged and fake, even comical. ugh. And by the way...Glamdring (Gandalf's sword) is supposed to glow just like Sting. And when the dwarves were being looted by the goblins, one of them had stolen something from Rivendell, and it said "made in Rivendell". Wow! I wasn't aware that the elves did that, and wrote it in the common tongue too! Or maybe the Goblin king spoke and read elvish. And how did Bilbo survive that fall?

And now for all of the in-continuity.

Now why would they do a thing like that? What was wrong with the old staff. 

THE LORD OF THE RINGS                                     THE HOBBIT

It seems that Elrond has two crowns, one he wears in battle and one he wears to other things. I guess everyone needs a silver and a gold crown. I don't have one.

But Galadriel has the same thing, so why shouldn't Elrond? I wonder if it is a ring bearer thing? Of course, Elrond's two crowns are in the same movie, Galadriel's two crowns are in the Lord of the Rings and The hobbit...so I guess that justifies things. No need for the people to be the same.

THE HOBBIT                                                                      THE LORD OF THE RINGS

Now lets play "Follow the broach"
See? Right now it is on the coat thing covering her very modern looking disco dress.

Now look! She decided that she didn't like it there and moved it to her dress. And wow, what a pose. Her hands are also different from what they looked like in The Lord of the Rings.
And Gandalf's moth looks different too. More like a butterfly.

And then we have the strange passage of time...they escape from the goblins and Thorin and Bilbo have a little, why did you come back moment in broad daylight. 

Then it is night time as they run away from the wargs. 


I have never before seen a pine tree with no roots, but they seem not to have any. It's amazing how they each just topple over one by one, and don't have any roots come up. 

Thror looks really CG, fake...and stupid.
his armor doesn't look real either. None of the armor in the whole movie looks real. 

And why do they have a dwarf that shoots a slingshot? How about a sword?

There was so much CG in this movie, even the actors faces seemed to be covered in cg airbrushing to make them look younger. There is so much stuff that was obviously done with blue screen and the shire looks unreal. Probably because of the excessive amount of CG enhancement. 

Here we have the beautiful and realistic looking shire from The Lord of the Rings. 

And here is the hobbit shire, looking very fantastic and out of this world.

Since we are on the topic of CGI, lets peek at some budgets. All three Hobbit movies have a mass budget of $745 million and a grand total of 474 minutes. The Lord of the Rings had 558 minutes not including the extended edition stuff, and its budget was only $281 million. Why was the hobbit so expensive? CGI. There was so much CG, that the CGI budget alone was more than the entire Lord of the Rings budget. And of course, Aragorn has a comment. The following quote is from Viggo Mortensen. 
"Also, Peter was always a geek in terms of technology but, once he had the means to do it, and the evolution of the technology really took off, he never looked back. In the first movies, yes, there’s Rivendell, and Mordor, but there’s sort of an organic quality to it,actors acting with each other, and real landscapes; it’s grittier. The second movie already started ballooning, for my taste, and then by the third one, there were a lot of special effects. It was grandiose, and all that, but whatever was subtle, in the first movie, gradually got lost in the second and third. Now with The Hobbit, one and two, it’s like that to the power of 10."

So it appears that somebody has gone overboard in a lust for more money...just like Thorin. Perhaps that is why Peter Jackson couldn't portray Thorin properly on screen, because it reflected his own lust for gold, and when you know you're doing something wrong, the last thing you want to do is face it. 
And a lot of people seem to follow my train of thought. With its larger budget and experienced crew, the entire hobbit trilogy has, so far, made $795,484,416 less than the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. I am not sure how long The Battle of the Five Armies will stay in theaters, but I can bet you that it won't be there long enough to change that much. Without a doubt, no matter how much certain misled people like it, Peter Jackson's hobbit trilogy will never even be able to pretend that it is better, or even close to as good as, The Lord of the Rings. It seems that our CGI has become so good that it is terrible again. And so, as you might have guessed when you began to read this post, I must needs end on 
Long Live The Lord of the Rings! 

And down with the "hobbit" (or so they call it)

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  1. Dear Author –
    I can pretty much say I agree with all you said. [Although you left out that Beorn was completely ruined (he lived in a grand house, not a stable, Peter Jackson!), and the love triangle thing with Legolas, the other elf, and the dwarf. Bleh.]
    Au Revoir,
    P.S. Just to let you know, the first picture of Galadriel (it says "the hobbit" above her head) isn't working.

    1. Ah, but all that with Orli and Beorn is in the second hobbit movie, I was only doing the first one.
      Take all of the negative stuff I said in this, and multiply it by two, and you get the second hobbit (desolation of smaug) and then take that, and multiply that by two, and you get the third hobbit. Truly truly truly horrible.

    2. PS. Thank you for the tip on the picture, it should be fixed now.